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Recovering From Ransomware: Post-Incident Activities to Get Back on Track


Ransomware is a type of cyber-attack that involves hackers encrypting a victim's data and demanding a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks have been on the rise in recent years, with 2021 seeing over 623 million ransomware attacks worldwide.

In 2022, ransomware attacks have decreased by 23%, indicating that companies have been somewhat successful at managing and improving business security across the growing frontier of hybrid and remote work environments.

However, there’s still plenty of work to do. Even a single ransomware attack can have serious consequences for organizations. As such, every business should have a documented ransomware recovery process in place across detection, analysis, containment, and eradication. Of course, eradicating ransomware from your system isn’t the end of your recovery process. 

Below, we’re detailing what comes next: Your post-incident response and how to improve your system to prevent future incidents from occurring.

What Is Post-Incident Response?

A ransomware post-incident response is the set of actions taken after a ransomware attack has occurred. The goal of the post-incident response is to restore normal operations as quickly as possible while minimizing the impact of the attack and preventing future attacks.

As post-incident activities represent the third phase of ransomware recovery (occurring after the detection and eradication phases), users should have a good idea of the scope of the damage. From here, it’s time to begin restoring systems and returning to normal work functions.

Affected systems can be reconnected and restored from offline after you’ve verified that the ransomware is fully removed from your system. As a best practice, restore each isolated network segment one at a time to minimize the risk of re-infection.

Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)

Businesses will often leverage VLANs as part of their cybersecurity strategy, a tool that supports network segmentation, access controls, and traffic monitoring. VLANs can be used to segregate backup systems from production systems. This can help to ensure that backups are not affected by a ransomware attack, making it easier to restore systems from a clean backup if needed.

It is important to note that VLANs are just one aspect of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, and they should be used in conjunction with other measures such as strong passwords, up-to-date software, and employee training.

Backup Management

Backups should be encrypted based on the priorities of critical services while taking care not to re-infect clean systems during recovery. Depending on your cybersecurity strategy, you might have several types of backups to manage:

  • Full-disk encryption: Full-disk encryption involves encrypting an entire disk or volume, including all the data on it. This can be useful for laptops or other portable devices that may be at risk of being lost or stolen.

  • File-level encryption: File-level encryption involves encrypting individual files or folders, rather than the entire disk. This can be useful for selectively protecting sensitive data, such as financial records or personal information.

  • Cloud-based backups: Some cloud-based backup services offer encrypted backups as a feature. This can be useful for organizations that want to protect their data while it is being transmitted to and stored in the cloud.

As the last step, compare your rebuilt system to the backups of your old system. Ideally, your current network will be very similar to your previous network.

Document Lessons Learned

After backup management, your system should be operational and back to its pre-infection status. From here, the hard work is over—and it’s time to learn from what happened.

Users should document the incident along with associated response activities in their after-action reports. This is valuable information that can be used to inform updates and refine organizational procedures, plans, and policies moving forward. Depending on your cybersecurity approach, this documentation can include several steps:

  • Keep a record of the cybersecurity incidents that you have encountered. Include the details of the incident, the impact it had on your organization, and the steps you took to mitigate the damage. This will allow you to look back on past incidents and identify patterns and trends that may help you to prevent future incidents.

  • Update your policies and procedures. As you learn from past incidents, update your policies and procedures to reflect the lessons you have learned. This may involve revising your security protocols, modifying your training programs, or adding new controls to your systems.

  • Train and educate your employees. It’s important to regularly train and educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices, as they are often the first line of defense against attacks. Make sure to include lessons learned from past incidents in your training programs to ensure that your employees are aware of the latest threats and how to protect against them.

By taking these steps, you can continuously improve your cybersecurity posture no matter what type of threat affects your system.

As an additional action item, note that compromise indicators and lessons learned can be shared with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and other Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs) to raise awareness of existing threats and support a broader community understanding of ransomware impacts.

Invest in the Right Communication Technology

Investing in the right technology and resources can help improve your cybersecurity posture over time. This may include implementing new security software, hiring additional security personnel, or upgrading your hardware to more secure devices. For ransomware prevention, it’s critical to maintain up-to-date software and backups, train employees on cybersecurity best practices, and implement strong security protocols powered by technology.

At HipLink, we specialize in helping businesses integrate strong, unified communication systems purpose-built for robust incident response. Whether your company is facing a ransomware threat or simply needs a better system of internal communication, HipLink can help. With the proper deployment of wireless communications, we ensure that no matter what time of day or night, the right people are notified and able to work together seamlessly and effectively when an emergency occurs.

Contact us to learn more about our integrated communication solutions and their use as a disaster recovery tool.


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